Dutch police raided over 100 illegal drug labs last year
Last year, the police dismantled 105 drug labs for making synthetic drugs, heroin, or cocaine in the Netherlands. The number of synthetic drug sites increased by 20 percent compared to 2021. But there were fewer cannabis plantations. The number of drug waste dump sites also decreased.
The police saw a sharp drop in drug labs discovered in 2021 after dismantling a record number the year before. “We suspect the market has recovered from those interventions within a year. And that is worrying because the production of drugs disrupts our society,” Wim Woelders of the police said.
Amphetamine labs remained the most common manufacturing site discovered in the Netherlands last year at 38. Methamphetamine and MDMA followed at 15 each. “Criminal organizations are polydrug orientated,” Woelders said. There was also a striking increase in GHB labs, from 3 in 2021 to 13 in 2022. “It indicates a striking demand for this drug.”
In 2022, the police found 17 cocaine extraction locations and only three large-scale cutting sites. The police think cocaine-centered criminal organizations have changed their methods and are now smuggling more cocaine that has been chemically processed in carrier material instead of smuggling via blocks.
Woelders also noted that many criminals no longer focus on producing just one drug. “We see more and more production locations that are used multifunctionally. For example, we found nine drug labs where more than one drug type was produced last year.” That usually involved methamphetamine and another drug.
Last year, the police dismantled 1,604 cannabis plantations, compared to 2,285 in 2021. According to Woelders, various factors explain this decrease. “The main one is that there is little capacity for this within the regional units. Growers’ concealing methods also make cannabis farms more difficult to detect.” The police’s anonymous tip line also received far fewer reports of cannabis farms last year.
Last year, the police discovered 155 drug waste dumping sites, 25 percent less than in 2021 and the lowest number since 2014. The vast majority, 153, involved waste from making synthetic drugs. Two were cocaine-related. And the police found no heroin drug waste dumping sites last year.
According to Woelders, this decrease in dump sites starkly contrasts with the number of drug labs found. “A possible explanation for this decrease could be that the waste is stored or left behind at production sites,” he said. “Another possibility is that the waste is collected by the criminal organization and discarded in an alternative manner. For example, it could be that the drug waste is processed out of sight via regular waste processing streams.”
The number of accidents involving drug labs doubled compared to 2021. “Three times a fire, four times an explosion, and twice a situation involving chemical steam or vapor,” Woelders said, calling it worrying. “Not only the safety of the criminals themselves but also that of local residents is at stake.”